My teeth got progressively worse. There were more cavities. Teeth started crumbling away and breaking off at gum level. A tooth abscess was a regular occurrence and often lasted for several days swelling the side of my face. The constant pain was almost unbearable, but still my fears prevented me from seeking help. I would take painkillers like they were sweets but I could not visit the dentist because of my unconscious fears. I tried various ways to pull the offending teeth out to try to stop the pain--failing miserably and making the situation worse.
With a phobia the fear far outweighs the threat but the sufferer often has little control over their reactions. My rational thoughts told me that the pain I currently felt could not be anywhere near as bad as any pain I may experience having dental treatments. My unconscious mind did not agree the fear won. It has been said, "When it hurts enough people will go to the dentist." This certainly does not hold true if you are a dental phobic!!
Now, not only were my fears stopping me from going to the dentist I was also ashamed of the way my teeth looked. I thought that the dentist would never have seen teeth as bad as mine, and I knew from past experiences they would never understand. Once again they would rebuff me and make me feel small and dirty for the way I had let my teeth deteriorate.
It is amazing how our minds work when we are limited by our own beliefs and lack of knowledge. For example, as several of my back teeth had broken at gum level and the gums had swollen around them, I thought the only way to deal with the problem was to cut the gums open to get all the bits out. This did not help the situation at all and just served to re-enforce the fear which now controlled my life.
Eating started to get to be a problem as well. It is difficult to chew food when the main biting teeth are rotting away. I would tend to chew on one side of my mouth until that caused pain. Then I would use the other side. Eventually that too would start to hurt. The only options open to me were to nibble in the middle, or only eat soft food, until the pain went away.
I was always conscious about the state of my teeth. When speaking to people my hand would be strategically placed in front of my mouth to hide them. I also very rarely smiled, as this would reveal my teeth. So not only did I feel miserable, I also looked it.
Frequently I would have nightmares about teeth and often woke with broken bits of teeth in my mouth.
The state of my teeth also prevented me from visiting a doctor, especially if I thought there was a remote chance he might want to look in my mouth.
All of these factors compounded my fears, and of course I was the only one that felt this way. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from dental phobia maybe you will know what I mean.
The situation was getting progressively worse. Not only was my physical health suffering, but I had also lost my self-confidence and self-esteem, and had started to experience panic attacks. I was unable to see any way out and it was difficult to seek help because I was too ashamed of admitting to others how I felt. My life was so out of control, I felt isolated and alone.
Eventually I came to the "crossroads" in my life and realized something must be done. I could not continue to suffer in this way. About a year previous to this I had read an article in the Derby Evening Telegraph about a dentist who had dealt with people just like me and I decided to see if he could help me. Now I thought was the time to regain control of my life. It was a difficult decision to make, but eventually it turned out to be one of the best things I could have done.
I soon realized that not all dentists apprenticed to the Marquis De Sade. I had found one who did actually care and realized there was a person behind the teeth. I was treated with care and understanding, and was never made to feel small.
My treatment was taken one step at a time, and I was never pushed beyond my limits. Slowly but surely, my treatment progressed and I started to feel better about myself. Every success I had helped to re-build my confidence. I began to understand just how much my own mind had distorted my thinking about dentists.
How distorted was my thinking? Well:
- Throughout all of my treatment I only experienced a slight pain once and that only lasted about one second.
- The bits of tooth were the easiest to get out. My gums did not need to be cut.
- The dentist had seen teeth worse than mine.
- The dentist did not make me feel dirty, stupid or rebuff me for the state of my teeth.
- I was not the only one who had such fears.
With hindsight, I could have saved myself lots of pain, discomfort and suffering. I only hope this account of my own experiences provides hindsight for any other people who are experiencing similar problems and impetus to enable them to take the steps needed to beat "the fear".
Please don't let your lives be controlled by past experiences as I did. We all have the resources within us to enable us to find the right way to deal with our problem.
It can be done and the fear really does far outweigh the threat in a big way. Once you face the fear, you can see it for what it is and defeat it.
Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.